Defense Minister Benny Gantz addressed the situation in Lebanon and Syria on Wednesday, saying that Iranian establishment in the countries will only serve to harm them.
“Iran is attempting to arm it’s Syria with weapons, making it a terror state.” Gantz said. “Through Hezbollah, Iran is trying to buy Lebanon via fuel supply and construction of power plants. Lebanese energy dependence on Iran may lead to the establishment of permanent Iranian military bases within Lebanon - and its people will pay the price,”
Speaking to young Israelis attending a pre-military service educational program, Gantz also touched on the issue of operating the Karish natural gas rig and the maritime border negotiations with Lebanon.
“The state of Israel did not, and will not, receive orderers from Iran, its proxies or any other terror organizations.” Gantz said. “This is also the case for gas production from the Karish platform, which will begin operations as planned, and our freedom to operate against any threat inside and outside of Israel’s borders," he said.
"We will also reach out for agreement aimed at making the region prosper, and offer humanitarian aid to civilians. Terror organizations working under the countries’ regimes are the enemy – not civilians,” Gantz said.
IDF Chief of General Staff, Aviv Kochavi held a meeting with his counterpart, General Thierry Burkhard in France on Wednesday. According to the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit, the two discussed the challenges from Lebanon, Hezbollah and Iran.
Kochavi briefed the visitor on Israeli operational plans in a scenario of a war with Lebanon, and how Israel might target sites and infrastructure in Lebanon to harm Hezbollah.
Kochavi called Hezbollah a “terrorist army” rather than an organization, and said that “lately the Hezbollah terrorist army is increasing its aggression in a way that is increasing the risk of escalation as it attempts to threaten Israel, while actually threatening Lebanon and its people.”
“Hezbollah took the Lebanese ‘hostage’ and is using its civilian infrastructure, including residential buildings which will be targeted by the IDF should the situation require," the military chief said. "The international community plays an important roll in urging Lebanon to maintain its security and sovereignty,” he said.
“Hezbollah’s actions as a terrorist organization are an example of the way in which it prevents a positive change in Lebanon and maintains a failed system, while serving Iranian interests in the region.” Kochavi said.
“We are working diligently against Iranian entrenchment in the Middle East. Attempts to harm Israel, in any way, will be responded to with a severe response,” he said